When you think of locally-sourced ingredients in Idaho, potatoes might be the first thing that comes to mind. After all, Idaho license plates have promoted its “famous potatoes” for nearly 100 years. And while you can absolutely expect to enjoy delicious baked, mashed, and French-fried versions at just about any eatery in the state, Idaho is also known for its dairy products, beef, and lamb. With the Snake River running through Idaho Falls, you can also expect to find trout on the menu in this beautiful southeastern Idaho town.
From breakfast to dinner, these are my favorite restaurants to experience in Idaho Falls.
Note: Some of my meals were hosted. All opinions are my own.
1. Dixie’s Diner
For a filling meal with a side of 1950s nostalgia, cruise to Dixie’s Diner. The checkerboard tile, neon signs, and jukeboxes will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Happy Days. (Wearing a poodle skirt is optional.) Dixie’s is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch, and as you’d expect at a diner, breakfast fare is available to order all day.
What To Order At Dixie’s Diner
For a filling breakfast, choose a three-egg omelet, like the Idaho, which adds hashbrowns to the egg layer and is stuffed with bacon, sausage, chives, and melted cheddar cheese. For lunch, bite into a juicy, made-to-order hamburger. And for dinner, try a classic diner dish, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or chicken fried chicken smothered in gravy.
2. Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House
Located just a few steps from the Japanese Friendship Garden along the Idaho Falls River Walk, Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House is a great place to fuel up before a scenic stroll along the Snake River. It’s open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week as well as dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
What To Order At Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House
As the name suggests, you can’t go wrong with Smitty’s pancakes! Stick with a basic stack of Smitty’s famous buttermilk pancakes, topping them with strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, or chocolate chips for a little something extra. Or try their specialty pancakes: including southern pecan loaded with toasted nuts; potato, served with applesauce, bacon, or sour cream; or German, topped with powdered sugar.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Idaho Falls with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, you’ll be delighted to know that Smitty’s offers a gluten-free version of their famous pancakes.
3. MacKenzie River Pizza
For pizza in Idaho Falls, I recommend MacKenzie River Pizza Co. right on the Idaho Falls Greenbelt Trail. They have nearly 20 specialty pizzas, including several inspired by seasonal regional ingredients. You can choose your own crust, allowing you to select either original, thin, or gluten-free. This Idaho Falls eatery is more than a pizza restaurant; MacKenzie River also has a wide selection of salads, sandwiches, bowls, and pasta.
What To Order At MacKenzie River Pizza
For a specialty pizza you can’t get anywhere else, I recommend the mountain harvest, with pesto sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and roasted butternut squash served with a side of sage-infused honey. I’m also a fan of the jalapeño popper pizza, featuring cream cheese, smoky bacon, and fresh jalapeños. And although everyone knows calories don’t count on vacation, the decadent barbecue fries topped with “mack” and cheese, pulled pork, bourbon barbeque sauce, and scallions are worth every bit of its 1,000 calories.
4. Jakers Bar And Grill
Inside an unassuming building a short walk from the Snake River, the team at Jakers Bar and Grill makes everything from scratch daily. And if that isn’t amazing enough, Jakers takes happy hour seriously, with delicious discounts on appetizers, draft beer, house wine, and cocktails every day of the week, including weekends! In the near future, Jakers will launch a Smart Plate Menu, offering smaller portions and lower prices designed especially for guests over 60 years old.
What To Order At Jakers Bar And Grill
For filling comfort cuisine that lets you enjoy several main Idaho ingredients, try the meatloaf. Made from a combination of ground sirloin and Italian sausage, it’s served with mashed potatoes and a black pepper demi glaze. I also recommend the roasted salmon, served on a cedar plank, or one of Jakers’s flame-grilled burgers. Try the campfire burger with bacon, cheddar cheese, and crispy fried onions.
Pro Tip: Jakers Bar and Grill has a dedicated menu for vegetarians and those following a gluten-free diet.
5. The SnakeBite Restaurant
Family-owned and operated since 1994, The SnakeBite Restaurant has been a local favorite for decades. Located in the heart of historic downtown Idaho Falls, The SnakeBite is known for its tasty appetizers and gourmet burgers.
What To Order At The SnakeBite Restaurant
As someone who lives in the most landlocked state in the nation, I’m always drawn to seafood and salmon when I visit the Pacific Northwest. If you feel the same way, start your meal with the house-made wild sockeye salmon cakes served with chipotle sour cream, or the clams sauteed in a white wine broth served with toasted pesto sourdough.
The SnakeBite also serves up several delicious grilled items, including western-inspired burgers like the Grand Teton, with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and avocado; the Blue Snake River with green chile blue cheese; and the cowboy, with housemade barbeque sauce and an onion ring. There are also chicken, vegetarian, and salmon options. The South Fork salmon sandwich, featuring blackened wild sockeye salmon, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, and pesto, was absolutely amazing.
Pro Tip: If you’re not from the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S., you may not be familiar with fry sauce. Popularized in Utah in the mid-1900s, fry sauce at Salt Lake City eateries is typically an equal mix of mayonnaise and ketchup served with French fries. The fry sauce at The SnakeBite was some of the best I’ve ever tasted, probably because it had a bit of a kick. My server wasn’t sure what made it stand out from the countless other fry sauces I’ve tried over the years, but I’m guessing paprika and a bit of cayenne pepper.
6. Smokin Fins
For seafood, sushi, and more near the River Walk in Idaho Falls, there’s Smokin Fins. Located just off the Idaho Falls River Walk, they offer a wide range of appetizers, sandwiches, tacos, sushi, and more.
Pro Tip: If your experience in Idaho Falls leaves you wanting more Smokin Fins, you’ll also find locations in Arizona and Colorado.
What To Order At Smokin Fins
Seafood lovers will enjoy starting their meal with the lobster-stuffed avocado, house-made lobster tater tots served with chipotle aioli, or the kickin’ shrimp appetizer that pairs crispy shrimp with honey-chipotle sauce and ranch dressing. Meat lovers will enjoy the prime rib sandwich topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions, smoked Gouda, and horseradish cream dipped in mushroom au jus. And if you have a hankering for halibut, you’re sure to enjoy the pistachio-crusted Alaskan halibut served with mashed potatoes, pistachio cream, and asparagus. No matter what you select at Smokin Fins, you can add a bottomless mimosa to your order every day until 2 pm.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an amazing place to stay in Idaho Falls, I recommend the Residence Inn by Marriott Idaho Falls. Not only is it located right on the Idaho Falls River Walk across from the Japanese Friendship Garden, but it is within walking distance of several eateries on this list, including Smokin Fins.
7. Sandpiper Restaurant
For an upscale dinner with river views, there’s the Sandpiper Restaurant. The fish and seafood served at Sandpiper are flown in daily, and the chefs make all of the sauces, soups, and desserts from scratch.
What To Order At Sandpiper
Sandpiper is known for its delicious steaks — especially the slow-roasted prime rib — and jumbo crab legs. In addition to these excellent choices, meat lovers will be delighted by the Steak Sandpiper, a charbroiled, bacon-wrapped filet served with sauteed mushrooms and burgundy and bearnaise sauces. And fish lovers will swoon over the Idaho ruby red rainbow trout.
Pro Tip: If your travels take you to Pocatello, a town of about 56,000 people at the intersection of Interstates 15 and 86, you can also enjoy a meal at the original Sandpiper Restaurant.
8. Copper Rill Restaurant
Located just off the left bank of the Snake River, Copper Rill is a delightful place for dinner in downtown Idaho Falls. Under the direction of southeast Idaho native Chef Jud Wilcox, guests can enjoy a wide variety of perfectly prepared appetizers, pasta dishes, and entrées delivered with impeccable service.
What To Order At Copper Rill Restaurant
Known for its steak and seafood, you’re sure to enjoy the black and blue filet mignon with cream gorgonzola, the flat iron steak topped with Madeira mushroom sauce, or the baked haddock topped with lobster mango salsa. And if you’re craving pasta, try the sauteed shrimp and chicken fusilli with lobster sauce, or the handmade butternut squash ravioli topped with sage blue cheese cream sauce.
From a stack of buttermilk pancakes at breakfast to a multi-course meal with wine for dinner, these are my favorite restaurants to experience in Idaho Falls.
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